Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable chemical emitting a strong smell that is used in building materials and to produce numerous household products. Workers in many industries are exposed to this harmful chemical daily and risk developing serious illnesses. Products containing formaldehyde include:

  • Pressed wood like particleboard and plywood
  • Glues and adhesives
  • Industrial fungicides
  • Permanent press fabrics
  • Coatings on some paper products
  • Home furnishings
  • Household cleaners
  • Paints
  • Landscape and yard pesticides and products
  • Medicinal products
  • Hair care and other personal care products
  • Preservatives used in mortuaries and medical laboratories

Five Industries Where Workers Are Most At Risk of Dangerous Formaldehyde Exposure

Employees can develop high levels of formaldehyde in their bodies either by inhaling the gas or vapor in the air or absorbing it through their skin. Workers in the following industries face exposure to high levels of formaldehyde:

  • Factory workers who produce formaldehyde or products with formaldehyde
  • Laboratory technicians and scientists
  • Certain health care professionals
  • Mortuary professionals
  • Hair salon workers

In addition, other workers such as construction workers, painters, and landscapers can also be exposed to harmful levels of this chemical.

Common Illnesses Caused by Formaldehyde Exposure

Formaldehyde exposure can cause short-term and long-term health problems for workers, affecting various systems of the body, including:

  • Eyes. Workers can experience itching, burning, stinging, or excessive tearing.
  • Nose and throat. In addition to itching, burning, and stinging in the nose and throat, an employee can be more susceptible to sore throats, a running nose, blocked sinuses, and sneezing.
  • Respiratory system. Workers exposed to formaldehyde can develop chest tightness, wheezing, and asthma—resulting in limitations in their daily activities and long-term medical treatments.
  • Skin. Formaldehyde exposure can cause a number of skin problems, including dermatitis, skin rashes, blisters, and dry, flakey skin.
  • Neurological. Workers can suffer from headaches, depression, insomnia, attention deficit problems, nausea, and impairments in dexterity, memory, and balance—sometimes with long-term consequences on their ability to continue working.

Exposure to formaldehyde has also been linked to nose and throat cancer, leukemia, and blood and lymphatic cancers that can be life-threatening.

If you have developed a medical problem associated with formaldehyde exposure from your job, you may be entitled to benefits under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation. I have been helping workers like you for over 30 years get the benefits they are entitled to. Order my FREE electronic book, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know. Your Workers’ Comp Guide, to start learning about your rights. And start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer